Informal working groups of the FCC’s World Radiocommunication Conference Advisory Committee were unable to reach consensus on three proposals for consideration at WRC-19, including on proposals related to identifying spectrum for 5G services. At its fifth meeting today, the WRC-19 Advisory Committee today approved the three non-consensus proposals as well as five consensus recommendations.
In opening remarks at this morning’s meeting, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai thanked the panel for its work and said that while he knows it isn’t “easy to reach consensus” on some issues, it should “continue to look for common ground.”
“We as a country stand a much better chance at success internationally when we present a clear, consistent and united message abroad,” Mr. Pai said.
Tom Power, co-chair of the advisory committee and senior vice president and general counsel of CTIA, said, “We’re 18 months away, but we’re getting to the more challenging part here from both a technical perspective and a regulatory perspective,” with non-consensus proposals evidence of that.
“Obviously, we’d love to make the FCC’s job easier by reaching more consensus views, so I certainly encourage that,” added Mr. Power, who said the panel has now approved proposals for more than half of the WRC-19 agenda items.
The terrestrial services IWG (IWG-2) was not able to reach a consensus on a proposal for Agenda item 1.13 related to consideration of spectrum for 5G services, including possible additional allocations to the mobile service on a primary basis.
“View A proposes an identification to the terrestrial component of IMT [5G services] for the 37-43.5 GHz frequency range as well as a corresponding upgrade to the Mobile service a co-primary allocation for the 40.5-42.5 GHz frequency bands,” it said. Supporters include wireless trade groups, carriers, and equipment and technology vendors.
The exact list of supporters and non-consensus views is in flux while WRC-19 committee members are being approved under the panel’s new charter.
View B, backed by satellite companies, proposes the inclusion of a footnote that would identify mobile allocations in the 37-40 GHz and 42.5-43.5 GHz bands for 5G services. A second footnote would upgrade from secondary to co-primary the mobile allocation in the 42-42.5 GHz band. A resolution would be designed to protect incumbent satellite operations.
IWG-2 was also not able to reach a consensus on a proposal for Agenda item 9.1, issue 9.1.1, related to ways to ensure coexistence and compatibility of 5G spectrum use through technical and operational means in the 1980-2010 megahertz and 2170-2200 MHz bands. Terrestrial entities that support View A want no change in the International Telecommunication Union’s radio regulations.
Several satellite entities supporting View B want modification of an ITU resolution to include a power limit in the 1980-2010 MHz band to protect incumbent satellite operations from interference.
The regulatory issues IWG (IWG-4) was unable to reach a consensus on a proposal for Agenda item 8 dealing with the deletion of unnecessary footnotes in the ITU Table of Frequency Allocations.
Under View A, which the National Association of Broadcasters and TV networks support, footnotes for the U.S. would be deleted that deal with making an additional allocation in the 512-608 MHz to the fixed and mobile services on a primary basis and identifying the 470-608 MHz band for 5G services.
The footnotes are not needed as the spectrum is not being eyed for mobile or fixed services, or for 5G services, respectively, according to View A proponents.
View B, which is backed by the terrestrial wireless industry, says the footnotes should not be changed because they provide flexibility for the future.
In a filing with the FCC today in IB docket 16-185 on Agenda item 8, NAB asked the FCC “to support changes in the ITU Table of Frequency Allocations to align the ITU Table with domestic allocations. In particular, we urge the Commission to support withdrawal from footnotes 5.295 and 5.297 to the ITU Table, which identify broadcast television spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). These changes are critical to provide greater certainty for the broadcast television industry and encourage investment in the Next Generation TV technology the Commission has helped unleash under Chairman Pai’s leadership.”
NAB added, “Unfortunately, Chairman Tom Wheeler, on his own, directed Commission staff to support damaging changes to the ITU Table which were completed at WRC-15. These changes identified the entire UHF television band for IMT use, ostensibly because the amount of spectrum that would be reallocated following the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction was unknown. Following the successful close of the incentive auction, however, there is no longer any uncertainty concerning the future domestic use of the 470-608 MHz (Channels 14-36) band. Accordingly, the current Commission modified the domestic Table of Frequency Allocations to correspond with the results of the incentive auction.
“Alarmingly, the International Bureau has not yet made plain its intent to recommend similar action with respect to the ITU Table. We urge the Commission to bring to an end this Wheeler-era uncertainty regarding the stability of the broadcast band,” NAB added. “Unlike the immediately past Commission, the current one has strived for a level playing field among services and has recognized the essential role broadcast television plays in our country and the rest of the world.”
NAB continued, “The FCC should strongly support withdrawal from ITU Table footnote, 5.295, which identifies 470-608 MHz (Channels 14-36) for IMT services. This footnote was added at WRC-15 with Canada and Mexico as co-signatories. Because the incentive auction reallocated only channels above 37 (614 MHz and above), there is no reason for the United States to continue to support this footnote. Moreover, both Canada and Mexico have also stated that 470-608 MHz will not be used for mobile services, including IMT, rendering the footnote moot. A different result will suggest the Commission still supports the former Chairman’s vision favoring the wireless industry over broadcast television viewers.
“Similarly, NAB urges withdrawal from ITU Table footnote 5.297, a relic of a 1970s proposal to share some UHF-TV spectrum with land-mobile services,” the filing added. “In this footnote, the U.S. added an allocation to the ITU table in anticipation of more land-mobile/broadcast sharing, but the Commission never added a corresponding allocation to its … domestic table of frequency allocations. The ITU footnote has remained in place, a derelict provision for over 30 years, despite its conflict with the domestic table. We believe that Canada and Mexico would also assent to removal from the footnote.”
The next meeting of the WRC-15 panel is scheduled for Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. in the Commission’s meeting room.- Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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